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  Freiston Air Station

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Updated: 7 Oct 12

Opened: 1916 as RNAS Freiston Shores

Closed: early 1919

Airfield code:

Units base here:

RNAS Armament Training School :: - 1 Apr 1918
redesignated
No 4 School of Aerial Fighting :: 1 Apr 1918 - 1920
redesignated
4 Fighting School

After an aerial survey of the South Lincolnshire coastline, a suitable site for a bombing and gunnery range for the new RNAS Flying School at Cranwell was selected on the mud flats to the south of the village of Freiston. In the early summer of 1916, several targets were set up including at least one unserviceable aircraft.

Trainee pilots flew from Cranwell for gunnery and bombing training. However, due to the 40 minute transit time 90 acres of farmland was requisitioned for construction of a landing strip near the sea bank, measuring approximately 500 x 500 metres.

As the wartime flying training programme expanded, the landing ground at Freiston was enlarged and the RNAS School of Aerial Fighting and Bomb Dropping was established as a satellite unit of Cranwell. Permanent buildings including hangars, accommodation and a control tower were built.

The School had its own flight of aircraft which included the RAE BE2, Avro 504, Sopwith Camel, and later on Sopwith Dolphins. The school did not have a purely training role, as it was also equipped with a flight of Bristol Scout which were employed on anti-Zeppelin operations. This included the attempted intercept of Zeppelins in transit over Boston on several occasions.

Further growth occurred in 1918 when Freiston was enlarged and redesignated Number 4 Fighting School with the task of training pilots for fighting scout squadrons. After graduating at Cranwell as aeroplane pilots, officers on the advanced flying course were as a general rule appointed to Freiston for about fourteen days practical work in gunnery and bomb dropping.

Shortly after the end of the Great War, the aerodrome was closed in the spring of 1919. Soon after closing several of the wartime airfield buildings were destroyed in a severe gale. The only remains of the former aerodrome still on the site are the foundations of the Headquarters building.

Freiston churchyard houses three Commonwealth War Graves in honour of three Second Lieutenants, all Canadians serving with the RAF at Freiston when they died. John William Dowling was 21, from Vancouver, and had trained as a lawyer. John Freele Meek, from Ontario, had graduated in political science before volunteering for service. And Edward Lambert Bach, 21, came from Toronto. All three died in accidents near the airfield while flying Sopwith Camels.

Captain Alfred Williams Carter was Officer Commanding, Detached Flight, Freiston Air Station, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on the Western Front serving with, among others, 210 Sqn.

An excellent 16-page pamphlet - The Freiston Aviators, by Chris Howard and Alastair Goodrum is available that includes details on the camp and on the fallen airmen buried in the churchyard.

 

 


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